The novel Fantasy League (Philomel) by sportswriter and New Canaanite Mike Lupica is about a twelve-year-old fantasy football guru, Charlie, whose picks and podcasts not only get him noticed, but also get him famous in the NFL. Lupica recently signed copies of the book at Fairfield University Bookstore for the opening leg of his tour. Sitting down with the author prior, he spoke about writing journalism “back in the day,” and podcasting now, an implicit theme in the novel.
“My three sons do podcasts, and they all know more about sports than I do,” he says. “I can see how much fun they have doing those podcasts. It’s their world.”
Lupica isn’t active on social media for a basic reason. “I write two novels a year and newspaper columns; I’m on the radio six days a week, as well as TV. What thoughts do you think I’m not sharing with people?” he says. “I’m all for the idea that if you’ve got a story to tell, go for it. Charlie had a story.”
As a kid’s love of football is a crucial part of the book, so is Lupica’s affection for youth sports. As a New Canaanite, the author is passionate about one local game, the Turkey Bowl, which highlights the longtime Darien vs. New Canaan High rivalry. The Rams face the Blue Wave at the latter’s home field in Darien on Thanksgiving Day, November 27. “The Turkey Bowl is a huge deal. It’s so pure: It speaks to everything that is so good about sports,” he says. The feeling behind the rivalry, Lupica notes, is that the event is about not only sports, but also history.
“My whole thing on sports is if something great happens, you don’t have to watch it on replay, because the experience is burned into your memory,” he says. “It’s the best. The best. Sports give you a history. There’s not one night when I go by Mead Park in New Canaan that I don’t dream of reliving that time when my kids were young and had a big game.”
In Fantasy League, Lupica notes, there is a big game, but there’s much more. “It’s Charlie’s brain, heart and passion for this subject that sets him apart. That was the fun of writing this book.”